Most communication experts now believe that almost 90% of what we say comes from nonverbal cues, which includes our body language. From a flip of the hair to hands on your hips, how you move, gesture, and make expressions can say as much as what comes out of your mouth.
Body language is everything from facial expressions to eye contact, to our gestures, stance, and posture. While the nuances of body language are complicated, there are some common body language signs worth a thousand words.
- Smiles enhance likeability but when we are generally relaxed we are frowning which gives the perception we are angry. A natural smile produces wrinkles around the eyes. Without the wrinkles, it gives the perception of insincerity.
- Lips - Tight-lipped (Secret), Twisted (Sarcasm), Drop-jaw (Fake enjoyment), Sideways looking up (Playful and secretive).
- Eye contact is crucial to build and maintain trust. The eyes can show many emotions such as shock, happiness, anger, worry and even sexual interest. How can you tell if someone is lying? Watch how long they hold their eye contact. The less eye contact and movement of eyes gives the perception of avoidance.
- Eye brow movement can show emotion as well. When eyebrows are raised we look surprised. When down we look angry.
- Fingers on the neck shows emotional discomfort, fears or concerns in real time.
- Rubbing of the forehead can be a good indicator of a person struggling with something.
- Steepling or “praying hands” shows confidence, as does thumb displays.
- Thumbs-up is a good indication of positive thoughts
- Folding our arms (one or both) over our chest is a sign of feeling threatened. Even monkeys and chimps do it to protect from frontal attack.
- Hugging yourself with a partial arm-cross shows a lack of confidence (women). Men lacking confidence sometimes assume a “broken zipper” position.
- Palm-to-palm contact expresses an intention of honesty and openness, and that your interaction will be sincere and nonthreatening.
- Bone crusher: A person may be insecure and trying to overcompensate with an over-the-top hello.
- Palm-down handshake: A person may be trying to express his dominance.
- A left-handed wrap of the handshake from the top: A person may be trying to express his dominance.
- A left-handed wrap of the handshake from underneath: A person may be trying to support and comfort you.
- Posture. Posture can be a sign of dominance or submissiveness.
- Shoulders back with an erect posture can be a sign of dominance while being slumped can mean insecurity, guilt, or a feeling of shame.
Want more on body language? Download the chart here